De historica van de juristen en de rechtenfaculteiten | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1566-7146
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1611



This article is an interview with Hilde Symoens, the fifteenth in a series of Pro Memorie talks with retired Dutch and Belgian legal historians. Born in Brussels in 1943, Hilde Symoens spent part of her youth in Congo, where her parents, still in the colonial era, worked as teachers, She returned with her mother to Belgium in 1958 and started her university studies at Ghent University in 1960. As her father kept on being responsible for the Belgian schools in decolonized Congo, the colonial experience and the more general idea that the world was more than just the village one lives in, were important for her personal view of the world. At Ghent University, Hilde Symoens studied history and engaged in a PhD project on the Low Countries students at the late medieval and early modern university of Orléans. It was the start of a whole scientific career on the prosopography and the social roles of jurists. As a historian, not a jurist herself, she studied particularly ‘external legal history’. She married a Ghent professor of medicine, Leo De Ridder, was full professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and at Ghent University. She was one of the first women making career as history professor and talks on the incomprehension she met on her way.


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